8 Jan. 2016
Pasadena, UNITED STATES
Gloria Vanderbilt, the "poor little rich girl" who lived a life at the highest levels of fashion, society and wealth as an heir to one of the greatest family fortunes in U.S. history, died on June 17 at the age of 95. Vanderbilt became a fashion icon in the 1970s with an eponymous line of tight-fitting blue jeans that bore her signature and trademark swan logo. They were a must-have for any woman with aspirations to style. Vanderbilt was born into wealth on Feb. 20, 1924, in New York City. She was the great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the 19th century railroad and shipping magnate who amassed one of the greatest fortunes of the time. She was not yet 2 years old when her father, Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, died and she spent many of the following years living in Europe with her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, on her trust fund, which was estimated at $2.5 million - the equivalent of at least $33 million today. Gloria's aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who founded the Whitney Museum of American Art, said Gloria's mother was misusing the trust fund on a free-wheeling lifestyle that included a female lover, and went to court. Whitney won custody of the child in an acrimonious, sensationalized case that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Vanderbilt said being taken from her mother started her on a lifelong quest for love and approval. Sex, Vanderbilt said, was a subject she found endlessly fascinating. One of her memoirs told of her romances with Hollywood figures such as Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly and Howard Hughes (she was a teenager at the time), as well as various married men.